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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sanjay Gupta on Oprah

Dr. Sanjay Gupta appeared on the Oprah show today. Oprah opened the segment by recapping Sanjay's activities as a doctor in Haiti as well as a reporter. First was video of his treating a 15 day old baby with some sort of head injury, video of him spending the night in the field hospital treating 25 critically injured patients alone after the doctors packed up and left due to security concerns, and then video of Sanjay being helicoptered by the US military to an aircraft carrier offshore to preform a 90 minute emergency surgery on a 15 year old girl who had concrete embedded in her brain from the earthquake.

Sanjay was then brought into the studio from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, via Skype. Oprah asked Sanjay about this morning's 6.1 aftershock, and he said he definitely did. That although they are called aftershocks, a 6.1 feels like a real earthquake. He spoke of it being hard to imagine how all the debris will get cleaned up. Again, after this morning's aftershock, assessment teams will be looking for people with physical injuries, but there is a lot of emotional anxiety as well. People are so frightened you can see it in their faces as they walk around.

Talk then turned to the medical issue of how a lot of people lived, but barely, and now they need medical care that they just aren't getting. He spoke about all the "preventable deaths" because personnel and supplies just aren't available. Oprah asked him if i was a money problem or a distribution problem and Sanjay said it was definitely a distribution problem at this point -- there are supplies at the airport but not getting to where they need to go to help people. Oprah asked him "who's in charge" and he said that was a good question, because minutes and hours is how you measure the speed of medical relief and it's been 8 days!

Oprah said Sanjay told her that of all the crisis he's personally seen, Haiti has been the most worrisome and asked him to elaborate. He started out by saying you need to look at where Haiti started - one of the most impoverished nations in the world, their medical infrastructure was terrible, non-existent in so many places; they had one of the worst physician to patient ratios in the world, and that was the starting point 8 days ago. If you start there and then the earthquake hit which decreased the amount of hospitals and personnel available while exponentially increasing the number of people who need that infrastructure -- what worries him is how do you ever catch up.

He spoke of the differences with the Tsunami, because people either lived or died in the Tsunami and needed food and water -- where in Haiti people lived, but with catastrophic injuries and they need that care. They talked about the need of an infrastructure for distribution. While security is obviously important but unless you save people's lives, unless you get them some care, security is not going to matter. Sanjay states that when you increase the access to medical care you will decrease security concerns. People are desperate and that's why the security concerns go up. It all dovetails together.

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Anonymous said...

With today's large after shock, I don't think it is safe for AC and Sanjay to stay there. It is time for them to come home. They did what they could and the rest is up to the responders to finish the job.

Anonymous said...

Inspite of AC's and Sanjay's most vailant efforts, FOX NEWS is #2 for Haiti's coverage, and CNN came in at #15 in prime time. NBC led with #1 in totals.... this according to TVNewser update for last week.

Anonymous said...

Putting FOX News in second place is a major accomplishment. FOX News can always be expected to lead the US ratings because it has the entire far right audience to itself while independents and liberals are split between many TV news sources.

Cable news network ratings are only compared to each other normally. That's what's relevant. It's always expected that the cable networks will be beat by the regular network programming in ratings, that's a give.

More importantly, Anderson and Sanjay are being of use in Haiti and they are passionate about the story.